The Swamp (Part Two)

"Body of Lies", he remembered. That was the name of the movie. He saw bits of it when he was cleaning the warden's big office, the only room in the Campamento that had a TV, and a huge one at that. At least 50", flat screen, HDTV, a Sony Bhravia, with SKY TV package that only worked on the days when the torrential rains weren't slamming into the jungle.

The satellite in that movie had a camera that could actually zoom in on people on the ground and get close enough to see their features. He laughed, swatting a huge insect that was crawling up his leg. No way anyone was tracking his sorry ass. As far as the world was concerned, he did not exist.

Shit, there wasn't even a search party looking for him. Why should there be? Anybody crazy enough to try and escape would be faced with hundreds of miles of dense jungle, body sucking swamps, wild animals, starvation, disease, etc., etc. No one had ever made it out and in reality, not that many had even tried over the years.

If you did manage to make it out, nobody ever found out and you had a free pass sort of, well, for at least a few months if you played your cards right. Plus if anybody did find out you somehow managed to survive, they wouldn't believe it first of all, and secondly, even if they did there would be a kind of hero worship like it was a badge of honor or some such manly man bullshit.

The prison, the Campamento Central itself was a secret facility. No one outside of a few high-ranking members of the government even knew of its existence.

The whole point of the place was that the prisoners were not supposed to know exactly where they were. All they knew was that they were in the middle of the jungle with about three hundred other lifetime losers. At Campamento Central there was no probation, no time off for good behavior. Once you were brought here, you never left.

Life inside the facility was brutal. Prisoners slept on the floor and were only allowed one thin, disgustingly filthy blanket each. They were allowed to take a quick one minute shower once every other month or so. Their three meals a day provided the barest of subsistence. A few beans, some rice, maybe some old meat without too many maggots. Maybe.

Beatings were regularly dished out by the guards, but even those sadistic pricks could not muster the energy to inflict too much damage in the hundred degree, 99 percent humidity conditions that sapped every ounce of your will, so that most of the time all you could do was sit there and stew in your own sweat.

Most prisoners died in a few short years anyway, either from disease, starvation, madness (yes, madness can actually kill you), beatings, or, my favorite, suicide. Suicide was an art form inside the camp and guys found very creative ways to off themselves. He remembered one guy actually tried to eat a live eyelash viper that had crawled under his blanket. The reptile had promptly attached itself to his tongue. His face fell off in black chunks. Fortunately for him he died pretty quick from suffocation once his tongue swelled up like a giant mango.

Hendricks had arrived at Campamento Central five months ago. From the moment they took the black sack off his head, he knew that he had to escape, or die trying. Hendricks knew that he could only survive here for a short while so he spent every minute alone thinking, withdrawing into himself and concentrating on his inner rage, stoking it and feeding it, making friends with it.

The man who had destroyed his life must pay. The man who had taken his family away, who had framed him for murder, who had paid God knows who to put him in this hell hole. A very powerful man in Panama, someone high up enough to somehow cover up the disappearance of an American ex-pat like himself. The rage he felt was a living, breathing, conscious being. He loved his anger. It was the only thing that kept him going.

Escape itself was easy. The prison had no walls, no fences. He actually walked right past the morning sentry Rodriguez, that fat shithead, who only laughed as Hendricks stepped past him into the swamp. Rodriguez actually called a couple of the other guards over and Hendricks could hear them hooting and calling to him in Spanish as he swam through the thick algae and stumbled over the muddy islands, putting more and more distance between himself and his former captors, until all he could hear were the shrieks and calls of the wild birds and monkeys overhead.

The sun was merciless and although he had brought a gourd of water, he knew that it would not last more than a day or two at the most. Already he was exhausted, famished, and so thirsty his tongue felt like a giant piece of peach skin, all fuzzy and swollen. Hendricks also knew it would only get worse. He also knew he could not stop, not even for a minute.

If he stopped he would never get out of here. He knew only one thing, that he must get out of the swamp, out of the jungle and back to Panama City. He also knew with dead certainty that he only had one or two days at the most to do this before the swamp and the jungle claimed him.

Yes, he knew very well that he could not stop even for one minute. To stop meant to die, and no way was he dying before killing the man that destroyed his life.

to be continued

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Comments 2 comments

valeriebelew profile image

valeriebelew 6 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

Interesting read. Does such a place actually exist,or is it pure fiction. I have a feeling one does exist somewhere, whether this one is fiction or not. (: v

bludstream profile image

bludstream 6 years ago Author

No, this place is very real. I do a lot of research for my stories. I like Salsa music and one song, "El Cazanguero" by Ruben Blades (Panamanian salsa singer and US film actor) speaks of the prison, the "Campamento Central". I was also inspired by a recent History Channel series called "Locked Up Abroad" about Americans in foreign prisons. I have traveled extensively in Central America, but not in Panama.

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